A visit to a Spanish architect

          - Good morning Juan and happy new year!!

· Happy new year Peter! What can we do for you?


        - Well, following my brother in law’s advice, we just bought a plot inland, in a very beautiful valley and we wanted to know how much you charge to design a house for us there in Spain.

· One moment, let us locate the plot it in this plan so that we can determine what type of land it is. Can you tell me where the land is exactly?

          - Here, Is this plot after the first bend on the road.

· This whole area is land “without planning permission”, and there are quite a number of limitations. What do you want to build exactly?

         - Nor much, just a small building ... a place to spend the weekend there.

· A house?

-            - No, not really a house... something smaller.

 · The bad news is that it is not allowed. Things are now different than a few years ago. To build a house you require land with “residential use” and it is forbidden on land without planning permission.

-         - I don´t think you are following me, it is not “residential” as such, is only to spend the odd day there or a weekend…that is all.

· I understand, but given the type of building you require it will make no difference if you spend a day, a weekend or you go to live there.

-          Oh, I totally disagree because it's not the same thing at all, that regulation is stupid!

After a few moments of silence….


-          What if it was a mobile home?

·Like a caravan? Then there would be no problem in having it there while you spend the day.

-          No, I was referring to a house that can be assembled and removed.

⦁ A prefabricated one?

-          Yes, one of those.

⦁ The problem is that you will would have to take it with you when you left.

-          And why? If it can be dismantled at any time.

⦁ Well you have to realize that the use you are giving to the land would be the same, residential, regardless of whether the house is made of brick or prefabricated. And that is what is not allowed, the residential use.

After a few seconds of thought…. And then if it was a caravan?

⦁ I already told you, it would be no problem to drive it there and drive it off when you finish with the stay.

He nodded with his head

-          Sure, and I could leave it there at night.

⦁ Well in principle you should take it with you when you left.

-          And what's wrong with leaving a caravan there at night?

⦁ Good question but, it could be interpreted by the local authorities that if you leave it there the plot would be used as a parking lot, and that use is also not allowed on land without planning permission.

-          Geez with the land without planning permission! I will not let anyone else park!

He thinks for a moment

-          Then whatever you build there has to allowed in land without planning permission, right? What if I make it out of wood?

⦁ That has nothing to do. Following that criteria, you could also make it of stone.


-          Well, my brother-in-law..

-          On the plot nearby, my brother-in-law built one and it's been there two years.

⦁ I am sure he built it without a buidling license right?.

-          I think so …And nothing's going to happen to him?

⦁ Well, he is exposed to a sanction and to a possible demolition. It is like when you park the car where you shouldn’t, if you don’t get caught nothing happens but  if you do, and depending where you park you can get a fine and possibly the crane.

He seems to lose his patience

-          Well, just tell me then what can we build there!

⦁ You could dedicate it to several uses. If we obtain the permits from the environmental department, from the water authorities because it happens that the plot is also near a dry river, you could ...

He Interrupted me

-          - But is it not enough with just asking the city council for permission?!

⦁ No, it is necessary to count with the regional authorities blessing by obtaining green light from the various departments that may be affected, it depends on the location of the specific site.

-          - What a lot of bureaucracy and permissions to build something on a land that is mine!

We look at each other for a moment

-          Finally, what did you tell me could be done?

· Well there are several compatible uses. The most normal is an agricultural or livestock farm. Sometimes facilities of a scientific nature are allowed. Under certain conditions you could build a house directly linked to agricultural use.

-          Ah, well then there is no problem because we thought to planting some potatoes and some lettuces.

· I'm afraid that would not be enough. For it to be considered a farm it must be managed as such, there must be a real economic activity, not something merely domestic. You would have to work effectively on it or hire staff to maintain it etc.

-          Then I cannot even have an orchard there ?!

· Yes, yes. For an orchard you will have no problem, and you could even build a small shed to store the farm tools.


A big smile was drawn on his face.

-          Why did you not start there! If that is just what I said at the beginning.

· If I remember correctly, you told me a house ... And it must be a shed with whatever is necessary to store agricultural tools: a light bulb, a tap ... Nothing for example of a television antenna.

-          Not even a portable one?


·- Nothing that is not necessary to store those tools

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Al ser imposible conocer en profundidad cada caso, todos los consejos y contestaciones a la preguntas realizadas en este blog, los consejos dados son propiciado en términos generales por lo que se deberá contrastar con el asesoramiento privado de un abogado  y/o un arquitecto para estudiar en profundidad su caso.

As it is impossible to know in detail every case asked in this blog all our replies are given in good faith but we strongly suggest that you obtain private advice from a solicitor /and /or  architect who will be able to study in depth your own particular case.